Ukrainian experts want to prove Malevich was Ukrainian


Malevich, “Ukrainian girls in the field” 1932 (during Holodomor)

June 2, 2015


Translated by Kristina Rus

The division of historical legacy in a bitter Ukrainian-Russian divorce is in full swing

This year marks 100 years since the creation of the famous “Black square”, in honor of which UNESCO has declared 2015 – the Year of Kazimir Malevich. A May 15 marked the 80th anniversary of the artist’s death in 1935. By the way, all four versions of the “Black square” are located in Russia – which is unfair; at least one painting should have been returned a long time ago!

The most well-known in Ukraine expert in art of Malevich, art historian and professor Dmitry Gorbachev, spent a lot of effort to prove that Malevich was a Ukrainian. Malevich often wrote letters in Ukrainian, was inspired by the motifs of Ukrainian folk art and considered himself a Ukrainian. Special project “GORDON” explains in detail what connects Malevich with Ukraine.

Malevich often wrote letters in Ukrainian language, but sometimes in some funny mix of Russian and Ukrainian languages, from which it was possible to understand that he knows the latter very well. Here, for example, is a quotation from the letter of Malevich to a wife of artist Leo Kramarenko,  Irina Zhdanko (survived, by the way, her writings about how her and Malevich painted the landscape Svyatoshino in 1930):

“В Київі кажуть еди хоч відбавляй – вишні черешні та друга ягода що росте пиля самої землі. От би добре було вареників з сметаною та оцієї ягоди з молоком та с сахаром. Еще кажуть поросята в будинку вчених на обід можна брати”.

“In Kiev they say there is food galore – cherries and other berries. I would love to have some dumplings with sour cream and berries with milk and sugar. They also say you can have pigs for lunch.”

(letter written July 3, 1931, when there was famine in Leningrad, – hmm, and they say today that Russia tormented Ukraine with Holodomor, – Varyag).

KR – regarding Holodomor, there is an argument that the West demanded payment in grain from the USSR for exports in an attempt to spark hunger and social protest, but more about that next time…

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